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Nan- Goldin Disclosing Biography

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I was immediately drawn to Nan Goldin’s work when I came across it. I can appreciate photography, but it’s definitely not my favorite- which is why when I come across a photographer that grabs my attention, I definitely want to know more. So I did a little more research about her. While I enjoyed her photos before, I’m even more intrigued with them now that I know more about her personal life and background.

Goldin had her first solo show in 1973- which was solely focused on the gay and transexual community. At the time, this wasn’t the sort of subject matter that was often brought to the forefront for the public to be exposed to, so it definitely made an impression on its’ viewers. Goldin then continued on in her career to photograph controversial topics that were often swept under the rug and ignored by the general public. She documented the punk music scene, relationships that were often abusive, the gay community, and  the extensive use of hardcore drugs during that time.

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I think the reason I was initially so drawn to Goldin’s work is because the way in which they’re shot. In all that I read about her, her photos were often described as “snapshots”- which is indicative of their spontaneous, raw nature. Like I said, I’m not a huge photography enthusiast- but most of the photography I do gravitate towards possesses those exact qualities.

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I love looking at an image and feeling it’s unpredictability- even if it was completely staged. I think there’s definitely an art to making something look unplanned and candid, so even if the spontaneous nature isn’t genuine- I respect the ability to make it look so. Goldin’s work, however, was real- she was actually documenting  the underbelly of society during the 70s and on through the 80s.

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Another thing that I absolutely love about Goldin’s photography is, how, oddly enough- while shocking and controversial during their time- it reminds of today’s fashion photography. Even googling Goldin’s work and scrolling through pages after pages of her photographs, I felt like I was flipping through a magazine of fashion editorials. I think that’s a pretty interesting commentary on how we’ve evolved as a society. Things that were dirty and shocking and often unspoken are now displayed as something trendy, chic, and beautiful. That’s interesting to me. It’s almost like Goldin’s photos aren’t as disturbing or impactful as they were during their time because since then, we’ve become so desensitized to (literally) sex, drugs, rock n’ roll and violence that we are barely phased by it. Nan Goldin’s photograph’s beauty have transformed since their birth- they were initially beautiful because of their pure rawness and unfiltered content- while, now, their beauty is directly related to things that are displayed to us as desirable and beautiful in something as common as a fashion magazine.

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